During our first year of marriage and for our sixth wedding anniversary, my husband and I traveled to wine country in Napa Valley, California. We have had two different experiences in Napa Valley. On our first trip, we spent one day on a party bus vineyard hopping with 20 people. For our second trip, we spent two nights with another couple ubering through Napa. In total, I think I’ve been to around 9 vineyards. Some were fantastic, while others were just great. Here are my five favorite vineyards in no particular order.
Honig is a beautiful family owned vineyard and winery. They started off as a “garage” winery in 1964 and have evolved into a successful well-known vineyard producing wines you can find on wine lists around the country. We participated in the Classic Tasting for $30/person, which was done tableside on the patio. The wines are light, delicious, and each bottle had a family story behind it. I loved the casual setting of the outdoor tasting area and how you can bring your own picnic lunch if desired.
Caymus Vineyards reminded me of a magical secret garden – complete with a bubbling fountain, fluttering hummingbirds, and tasty wine. The Wagner family has farmed the current Caymus property since the 1940s. The Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon was one of the best Cabs I have ever tried. The tasting is $50/person and can be made here. We did not have reservations until about 30 minutes before pulling up the Vineyard, but I still think making them in advance is a great idea. There were tasting tables set up around the property, so you are able to take your time sipping the small glass you are given at various spots in the garden. We saw some large groups with light snacks spread out on picnic tables and others grouped on patio furniture. I loved the laid back feel of the winery and gorgeous scenery.
If you are going to splurge on one tour, Jarvis Estate is the place you must visit. The Jarvis Estate winemaking facility is contained within 45,000 square feet of cave tunneled into the scenic Vaca Mountains in Napa. The tasting and tour of the cave was an experience to remember. I felt like we were in a scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but seeing where wine was made instead of candy. The tasting portion of the tour is intimate, set in a gorgeous room within the caves. I loved every wine we tried and the story behind each bottle. Reservations are a required for tasting tours ($80) and fill up fast, so I recommend visiting the website to request a tour and tasting asap.
Established in 1969, Cuvaison is a Napa Valley estate vineyard and winery that produces Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Carneros, Napa Valley. I visited the winery during a visit to California in 2010. Our large group filled the unique tasting room and we were able to sample a variety of wines at our leisure. Reservations are required – the tasting is 45 minutes at $25/person.
Located in the heart of Carneros, Napa Valley is the home of the sparkling white Pinot Noir. When we visited Domaine Carneros in 2010 for a private group tasting, I did not know such a wine existed. Our wine educator presented us with a bonus glass of the unicorn at the end of our tasting and I begged him for a second pour. To this day I am upset I didn’t buy a bottle because Domaine Carneros’ sparkling white Pinot Noir is worth a trip to the winery. Reservations are not required for groups under six, but I highly recommend making an appointment before visiting due the popularity of the vineyard.